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Louisiana Senate passes bill that would add to Parental Bill of Rights

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(The Center Square) — A bill in the Louisiana Senate that would add a plank in the Parental Bill of Rights concerning the teaching of critical race theory passed Monday night.

Senate Bill 262 by Sen. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, is a one-page bill that would add a public school “shall not discriminate against their child by teaching the child that the child is currently or destined to be oppressed or to be an oppressor based on the child’s race or national origin.”

The bill passed on a 28-11 vote and is now headed to the House, where it has yet to be assigned to a committee.

“As educators, we have a tremendous opportunity and a responsibility to educate children to prepare them here for life and teach them that they have a unique opportunity living in this country and being an American,” Hodges said on the Senate floor about her bill. “And we need to teach them self-esteem and self-confidence because children believe what adults tell them about themselves and about their future.”

Sen. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, said the bill was “written broadly” and asked Hodges if there were any examples of this type of teaching on race. He also said he felt that it could stand in the way of history being taught in public schools statewide.

“My concern with the bill is that it is written so broadly that it could impact a teacher’s ability to teach certain subjects that some might find difficult to discuss because we can say, well, a child could choose to be or maybe made to feel oppressed by what a teacher is teaching although that’s not the teacher’s intent, there’s no discriminatory intent,” Duplessis said. “We want to inform and educate, not oppress our children.”

The original Parental Bill of Rights was passed in 2014 and amended in 2018. It allows parents to examine their child’s text books, receive a written copy of their child’s school records within 10 days of a request, be notified if their child has been the victim of a crime or spoken with law enforcement officers.

It also gives parents the ability to take their child out of sexual-related instruction and forbids schools from discriminating against the religious beliefs of the child and the parents.